Tobold's Blog
Friday, August 09, 2019
Changing the content of your channel

Yesterday I was going through the list of YouTube channels I have subscribed to over the years, and unsubscribed to those that were no longer relevant to me. Sometimes my interests had changed, sometimes the channel had changed because the interest of the content creator had changed. I actually came across one video in which a content creator explained why he didn't want to make his channel about popular Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition any more, because his personal interests had shifted towards a much less well-known and much less popular game. He had my fullest understanding. Been there, done that, went down to about 1% of the number of readers that I had at the height of this blog.

Of course the decline in readership of this blog had multiple reasons. My interests changed, the interests of my readers changed, MMORPGs went out of fashion, blogs went out of fashion, and so on. Now I produce a lot less content than I used to, and I only post what is relevant to me. Apart from coming across the occasional Google Analytics automated e-mail, I don't even follow anymore how many people read what I am writing. So while I think that I am very much the source for the decline in readership, I also think that even if I had tried to keep it up, that would only have delayed the inevitable decline. Internet fame is fickle, and not easily transferable; I couldn't easily have re-invented my blog as a successful YouTube channel with a different subject and kept my "fame".

Now luckily I avoided most monetization options on my blog. I never ran ads or posted paid-for content. I accepted the occasional review copy of a game, and put up a "pay Tobold a coffee" button, but that never resulted in much more than coffee money. As far as I understand YouTube and Twitch, monetization is more or less automatic these days, and unless you get "demonetized" for some misbehavior, you make some money from views and subscriptions. Thus for the few really popular content creators on YouTube and Twitch, the income becomes significant enough for at least a sizable side income stream, if not the main income stream.

So I would think that if you make a good amount of money from content creation on your channel on YouTube or Twitch, you would be much more reluctant to radically change that content. If you have achieved some fame for streaming game X in which you are very good, saying that you will stop playing game X, and will play game Y instead, which you are still learning, will lose you a lot of subscribers. Especially if Y is less popular than X. However if you stick with game X forever, you still risk losing your subscribers over time, either because they feel that your spark has gone out, or because their interests change over time as well. We live in a world in which games are abundant, attention spans are short, and relevance is fleeting. Me, I'm happy that I stuck with my day job, and stayed true to myself in the content I still create.

Yeah MMO blogger/vlogger was unlikely to be a viable career in the long or short term.

Keen and Graev took a different tack and are back on WOW I guess, after a decade of complaining about it. So I guess they made a different decision on the cash front.
Doesn't it feel like we are coming full circle in terms of media? The promise of Web 2.0 back in the day was that everybody could publish to the whole world and gulf between content creators and consumers would dissolve. Blogging was one of the purest expressions of that. I remember the mmorpg blogosphere in its heyday. It was an active and vibrant community and it was "important". While the quality varied it was the place to get news, insight and analysis about our hobby. Very little of it was commercialised and best of all every one who wanted could contribute.

Youtube and Twitch seem to have taken over as the epicentres of gaming media but I don't think they can be called social media any more. Almost every successful channels is commercial or trying to be and the gulf between creators and consumers has grown very wide again.

Reddit seems to be the one remaining place where you can talk to the whole world on a more or less equal platform. Gamer's and developers, critics and consumers can and do use the site and it does seem to be "important" in the way the blogosphere once was. Posting on a forum is not the same as writing your own blog however. There is no sense of ownership and the format doesn't really inspire creativity.

Could you ever see yourself starting a Youtube channel?
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